Words: Hannah Bond
With summer fast approaching and lockdown restrictions beginning to ease, we will all be back in the shops before we know it, picking out the latest designs we have missed wearing while being stuck at home.
If I have learnt anything from this lockdown, especially working in the fashion industry myself, it’s that we need to support the small fashion businesses that are trying to make a change in sustainable clothing. It is easy to think that if you are buying less from retail giants, then you’re doing your part to lower your carbon footprint. However, it’s clear from the millions of clothing hauls which appear on our social media everyday, that not enough people are understanding the message about what sustainable fashion actually means.
In order to produce regular new collections inspired by catwalk looks and celebrity styles, fast fashion focuses on speed and low costs. These low costs are only obtainable because of the way that these brands cut corners to get clothes quickly into stores and into your basket.
Although buying less can make a change, it is where we buy from that will really make a difference. Buying from companies that provide a clear production cycle and traceability for each garment, can benefit those who actually make our clothes, as well as the planet.
To help cut through the confusion, I have listed some of my favourite small sustainable brands trying to make a difference. Some are a little pricey, but that its only because we have become accustomed to low-cost clothes from fast fashion retailers. As many of you will know, it is the irresistible cheap prices of these clothes that have a greater cost on the planet. With this in mind, take a look at these sustainable brands that will make you look stylish and chic, as well as make a difference in the fight against fast fashion.
E.L.V denim is a London based, zero-waste brand. They create unique, up-cycled garments from old unwanted jeans and transform them into stylish designs that will brighten your wardrobe year-round. They have a variety of products in menswear, womenswear and accessories.
E.L.V denim ensures that every part of their product cycle is aiming to help the planet, from sourcing the jeans to even labelling them. The discarded jeans are hand-picked and cleaned. Many people do not realise that to make a single pair of jeans from scratch requires around 7000 litres of water, whereas this process only requires 7!
Each item is made at a local east London atelier. They work side by side with the atelier to ensure fair working conditions and lifestyles for its workers. Nothing goes to waste here and any scraps are given to local artists and schools to be used creatively.
Each stage of their production process is written about in detail on their website.
When planning what bikini you want purchase this summer, Hunza G should definitely be on your list of brands to consider.
This British swimwear brand creates a one-size-fits-all approach to swimwear and clothing, thanks to their unique knit fabric, woven in the East Midlands. Every piece is then dyed locally in London and handmade to order, ensuring no stock is ever held and only what is needed is made. Any excess fabric is then created into accessories such as scrunchies.
As an extra added bonus, every item comes with a six-month warranty, meaning that if your new beloved purchase gets damaged, they will repair it for you, prolonging the life of your garment and stopping you buying more! Hunza G also describe themselves as carbon neutral and use environmentally friendly shipping methods. So don’t be drawn to those £1 bikinis, and instead, invest in a beautiful piece of swimwear that supports local businesses and the environment.
Fullalove is a pretty and affordable sustainable brand offering loungewear, everyday basics and lingerie. Everything made here is created using sustainable fabrics such as bamboo, hemp and organic cotton, all of which are biodegradable and are not forcefully grown. As well as the fabrics being a key feature in their design, dyes are also considered. In Fullalove’s ‘non-toxic’ collection, they use natural dyes such as spinach, cabbage, raspberries and even nettles. Strange as these ingredients may sound, these dyes are all key solutions to make our clothing purer and more sustainable.
With the combination of natural fabrics and natural non-toxic dyes, you are left with beautiful clothing that is kind to your skin, and the planet too.
Olivia Rose The Label
Olivia Rose The Label is an independent slow fashion brand run by designer Olivia Rose Havelock in her studio, in Edinburgh. She creates charming cotton poplin dresses and tops in a range of fabrics and prints all sourced locally by herself. She hand makes every order as it comes in, allowing her to only manufacture what is needed. Once the order comes in, she will make it bespoke to her client’s measurements, providing a more personal tailored service.
If you’re looking for adorable summer or occasion dresses with that added bit of drama, then Olivia Rose is the place to go.
Damson Madder is an affordable sustainable brand that creates colourful, casual womenswear.
Founded by Emma Hill in April 2020, her aim is to add more exciting and unique designs into the market of sustainable fashion - using natural dyes and materials at a more affordable price. Within her collections, Hill uses 100% recycled cotton and 100% recycled polyester made from waste plastic bottles.
Damson Madder is open about the origin of each of its garments and their transparent supply chain. They even use biodegradable packaging to ensure a smaller carbon footprint. Damson Madders quirky, stylish designs are perfect for chilling out in this summer, as well as helping support this small sustainable business and of course, reducing environmental impact.
Before July are a great go-to for satisfying your dreamy summer outfit cravings. Every item you order from here is specially made to order in the UK, ensuring no stock is held and only what is needed, is made. Before July only offer 2 collections a year, but this does not make their designs any less desirable. They have a range of clothes and accessories in bold colours and prints that will fulfill your summer picnic fantasies.
But do not hesitate to make an order. It takes up to 3 weeks to make each order by hand, and with their increasing popularity, they’re selling out fast!
Omnes, translated as ‘all’, was created to help change our attitudes towards sustainable fashion. Each piece is designed and created in their studio in London, where they show collections of romantic and elegant womenswear pieces.
Their traceable supply chain is detailed clearly on their website where they write in depth about their plan to fight fast fashion. Their aim is to create clothing that will last, thinking about fabrics that you will wear for longer and how they will last longer. They even go into thinking about what will happen after you stop wearing it. They commit themselves into producing as little waste as possible, using off cuts to transform into accessories.
Their midi and maxi dresses paired with a matching scrunchie and face mask and are perfect for looking chic, stylish and Covid safe in the warmer weather.